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Indian Super League: the early title contenders

Atletico de Kolkata look the favourites so far, closely followed by Chennaiyin FC and NorthEast United FC, but it can all change quickly.

Anirudh Vadlamannati |

Updated:October 31, 2014, 9:16 AM IST
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Indian Super League: the early title contenders
Atletico de Kolkata look the favourites so far, closely followed by Chennaiyin FC and NorthEast United FC, but it can all change quickly.

The ISL is well underway now and the competition seems to have struck a chord with people all over the country. People are now regularly checking out the goals scored and contemplating the league table, making calculations over as to how their favorite team can claim the prize.

So who is the early favorite to win the trophy?

Atletico de Kolkata seem to have a good balance in their team, and the homegrown players in the team have played a large role in putting them at the top of the table for now. With an average of 1.8 goals per game, (the second best in the league) and 33 shots on goal in the tournament, their forward line gets the job done when it comes to the goals department.

Baljit Sahni and Fikru seem to have struck a partnership really quickly and it is clearly showing on the pitch. They also boast of the second meanest defence in the league, conceding just three goals in the process. Kolkata were considered by many pundits as the team to beat before the tournament started, and they certainly haven't disappointed till now.

Closely behind in second and also having a game in hand over the leaders are Chennaiyin FC. They are making it a point to produce excellent teams in any sport in the country.

If their last result and performance is anything to go by, they are a team to be reckoned with. They swatted away Mumbai City FC with extreme ease and looked to score even more than the five goals they managed that night. Apart from one disastrous result against the Delhi Dynamos, the Chennai outfit has been impressive in every game so far.

At the heart of their brilliant performances, is the Brazilian midfielder Elano. It seems age hasn't quite caught up with him yet, and he has produced some quite remarkable displays in the center of the park. With five goals, he is the tournament's top scorer and would be crucial to the team's title chances. Andre Santos, another Brazilian at left back has also contributed from the defence in the scoring department, but the team has conceded a worrying seven goals already in the tournament, the second most in the league. If they really do stand any chance of winning the league, they need to shore up things at the back, and quickly.

Kolkata vs Chennai on the 4th of November already looks like a game you cannot miss. Watch out for that one.

Another team in title reckoning is NorthEast United FC. Only three points behind the leaders, one cannot rule out the highlanders.

Not really boasting of popular marquee players compared to other teams, the greatest strength of the NorthEast is their ability to play as a team. They look to gel really well as a unit, and that may well prove essential in the later stages of the tournament. However, the Highlanders have looked to struggle in front of goal, with only four goals in the five games that they have played. If they really look to challenge for the title, they need to start firing going forward.

After the top three teams, there appears to be a cluster of teams from 4th to 7th.

All the teams in there have played well in patches. Their form looks temporary and all of the teams in there need to up their performances if they have their eyes on the big prize in December.

Leading the pack here are Delhi Dynamos in 4th place, who looked brilliant in their demolishment of the Chennai outfit a few days ago. That result apart, they have been pretty ordinary, with drawing games looking their biggest Achilles heel at the moment.

Kerela Blasters FC, Mumbai City FC and Pune City FC all look in a similar position and although it is early to rule them out of contention, they definitely need to improve on their displays.

Bottom of the league are FC Goa who are winless and are in quite a rut. The suspension of Robert Pires, their marquee player, doesn't do their chances any good. They need to get out of their rut and have to do that quickly before time runs out for them.

All the competition and tables apart, the ISL has been a breath of fresh air and whoever wins the tournament, the excitement it has produced is palpable. Sit back and keep enjoying.

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